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Report: OC schools making the grade

Report: OC schools making the grade

By: Chris Menees Messenger Staff Reporter

By CHRIS MENEES
Messenger Staff Reporter
On the whole, the Obion County School System is making the grade, according to the latest state report card data presented to the Obion County School Board at its session Monday night.
The school system’s 2007 re-port card from the Tennessee Department of Education shows Obion County schools in good standing with No Child Left Behind (NCLB) and meeting federal benchmarks in Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) for the elementary/middle and high school levels.
Elementary/middle school AYP indicators show a need for improvement in the area of math for a couple of sub-groups of students but those areas are now being targeted, according to Obion County Assistant Director of Schools James Faulkner, who presented the test data, along with systemwide 7-12 supervisor of instruction Nancy Hamilton.
The county’s K-8 attendance rate of 95.5 percent is above the 2007 state goal of 93 percent.
High school AYP indicators for grades 9-12 math show Algebra I as one of the areas where work is needed, according to Mrs. Hamilton. She said the need is being addressed in several ways, including the hiring of a high school math tutor.
At the high school level, the county’s reading and language scores are much better than the state average and writing skills are at the state level or above.
Mrs. Hamilton said the county school system’s graduation rate of 79.9 percent for 2006 is “much improved” to a rate of 85.3 percent for 2007 and will be off the target list next year. All of the county’s schools are in good standing for 2007 with the exception of South Fulton Middle/High School, which is targeted only because of the graduation rate. With such a small number of graduates at the school, it was explained that having just one or two dropouts can significantly pull down the rate.
Board members learned the system’s academic achievement grades for grades 3-8 are above the state average, while grades 5 and 8 TCAP writing is at or above the state average. Likewise, 11th grade TCAP writing is also above the state average and it was noted that considerable work has been done at the high school level to lead to improvement from the previous year.
The county’s academic ACT achievement for grades 9-12 for a three-year average is not quite at state levels but the ACT scores have shown steady improvement all three years and are very close to being at state levels.
Faulkner and Mrs. Hamilton said the school system’s academic growth (value added) 2007 scores show “mean gain” improvements in every category and all A’s on the state scale for grades K-8 value added. It was noted that school officials are particularly proud of a significant gain in the area of reading.
There is an area of concern with sixth-grade social studies, which is also a problem statewide, according to Mrs. Hamilton. She said the concern is being addressed in several ways locally.
In the area of science, the three-year averages show gains in all grades except fifth grade, an area which is also being addressed locally and is included in the system and school improvement plans.
Grades 9-12 value added shows math below the state average but the area of concern is being addressed in the county’s high schools in ways that include tutoring and a freshman studies program. U.S. history is the only other area of concern that is below state average but county school officials expect the subject to be at or above the state average next year due to changes being implemented.
ACT value added is reported at or above state averages in all subject areas and value added for 11th grade writing is above the state average.
Attendance is above the state goal but county school officials are working on the dropout rate as they work toward the state goal of 90 percent.
Overall, Faulkner said the data shows that the county’s schools are “doing well.”
In other action during Monday night’s meeting, which was held at the board’s central office in Union City and was opened with prayer led by board member Greg Ferguson, the school board:
• Authorized Obion County Director of Schools David Huss and system maintenance supervisor Phil Graham to negotiate with architectural firms Anderson Buehler Architects of Jackson and iDesign Architecture Group of Jackson to obtain a final contract for architectural services for the 12-classroom addition phase of the school system’s construction project.
In a related matter, the board voted to entertain a contract and negotiate if necessary with general contractors/construction managers Lashlee-Rich Inc. of Humboldt to provide construction manager services for the 12-classroom addition phase.
The decisions regarding the classroom additions at Hillcrest, Lake Road and South Fulton elementary schools were made after considerable review and comparison of various proposals from architectural firms and construction managers, which were presented in a graph form for board members’ review.
The board had met in two special called meetings last month to interview prospective construction managers and prospective architects for the project.
• Approved a consent agenda that included a monthly personnel report and financial reports.
The personnel report lists the resignations of Hillcrest/Lake Road library educational assistant Amy Windsor, Obion County Central High School guidance secretary Jayne Adcock, and transportation and maintenance department part-time custodian Zel Wirt; a leave of absence for OCCHS teacher Tom Rice; and the hirings of OCCHS guidance secretary Debbie Underwood, OCCHS substitute Chad Wells (to fill Rice’s leave), South Fulton High School personal educational assistant Julia Wright, transportation and maintenance department part-time custodian Hershel Runions and South Fulton High School teacher/football coach Jack Kelly Spivey.
• Accepted a low bid of $27,923.70 from the Color Shop in Martin for carpet replacement to tile for South Fulton and Ridgemont elementary schools.
• Approved a request to surplus computers and authorized the most economical disposition of the equipment.
• Learned the board’s annual retreat has been scheduled for March 28. Huss said the retreat was held in April last year but he believes it would be better to hold the session earlier due to budgeting and planning. Last year’s retreat also included Huss’s annual evaluation as director of schools.
• Approved two overnight trips, including one for the OCCHS band to state band competition in Nashville in April and one for the SFHS band to a band competition at the Smoky Mountain Music Festival in Gatlinburg in April.
• Received a copy of a proposed school calendar for the 2008-09 school year for information and study purposes only. Huss said he believes it is a good calendar and the teachers who have been helping with the draft have spent a considerable amount of quality time working on it. He noted the proposed calendar places the first day of classes in August only 12 days away from starting after Labor Day.
• Received a copy of an athletic practice survey showing which districts allow at least some athletic practice during the school day and which districts allow no athletic practice during the school day. Huss said the comparison shows that allowing some practice during the school day is “not a northwest Tennessee phenomenon.” He said he has challenged coaches to limit the practice to just one period next year, though.
• Learned from Huss that the school system just received word it has been approved for district-wide accreditation.
• Heard brief updates from the school and system administrators on hand for the monthly session.
School board members Allen Edmaiston and Rodney Taylor were absent from Monday night’s lengthy meeting.
Published in The Messenger 1.15.08

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